Glossary » u
computers everywhere: the idea that computers are getting smaller and cheaper, so they will be appearing everywhere in our lives and embedded in almost any kind of device. Thus, user interfaces will need to be extremely easy and inconspicuous.Read more »
user-centered design: design around the needs and goals of users and with users involved in the design process, design with usability as a primary focus.Read more »
user interface management system. A development environment for designing and building user interfaces.
Typical features include a graphics system, a widget library, layout editor, and various programming language and operating system extensions to support larger-scale development, such as object-oriented features…Read more »
user interface software engineering (pronounced “WISE”). The field that studies how good user interfaces can be effectively built, often focusing on user interface toolkits and support for graphics, layout, and widgets, but also considering support for peripherals, other modalities of…Read more »
user interface software and technology (pronounced “WIST”); the name of an annual conference sponsored by ACM SIGCHI that takes a computer science and software development point of view on how to build user interface software.Read more »
the facility for reversing the effects of any given operation.
Some common elaborations of undo include:redo facilities – for bringing back the effects of an operation that was undone repeat – repeats an operation instead of undoing it multiple
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a control that expands a window to reveal more information or more controls.Read more »
a digital format for representing text within any of the major writing systems of the world, replacing standards such as ASCII (which can represent fewer than 256 unique symbols) with a 2-byte format that can handle any of over 65,000…Read more »
USP; the differentiating factor that distinguishes a software product or website from its competitors. Its niche.Read more »
pen-based input of alphanumeric characters based on an alphabet of gestures that can all be written with a single pen stroke. For instance, uppercase H usually requires at least 3 strokes (two vertical bars and a crossbar), while lowercase h…Read more »
the ability of everyone, regardless of age, nationality, disability, or any other factor, to access and take advantage of computers.Read more »
Usability Professional’s Association, a professional organization for practitioners in the field of usability and human-computer interaction.Read more »
Universal Resource Locator; an address used to indicate where documents and other services are available on the internet. This address is universal in the sense that it works for a wide variety of internet services, including web pages (http:), ftp…Read more »
the characteristic of being easy to use, usually applied to software, but relevant to almost any human artifact. What makes an artifact easy to use? Broadly, something is easy to use to the extent that it effectively performs the task…Read more »
or user advocate; a person who takes the role in an organization of ensuring that products are designed with the end-user’s needs in mind.Read more »
offering services, primarily for software development organizations, to help them improve the usability of their products and improve their development processes to achieve more consistently usable results. Usability consultants usually offer such services as usability training, needs analysis, usability evaluation…Read more »
the condition where the longer a programmer or designer spends dealing with a particular piece of code (without observing real users using it), the more logical and usable it appears to be.
This is a metaphor to the aviation “Death…Read more »
a methodical “engineering” approach to user interface design and evaluation involving practical, systematic approaches to developing requirements, analyzing a usability problem, developing proposed solutions, and testing those solutions.Read more »
or usability assessment; any of a variety of techniques for measuring or comparing the ease-of-use of a computer system, including: usability inspection, user interface critiques, user testing of a wide variety of kinds, safety and stress testing, functional testing, and…Read more »
the principle that in designing software and other human artifacts, the most important goal is to design for usability. That is, design products for people that help them do their work in an effective and satisfying way.
Usability First™ is…Read more »
the set of usability methods that gather usability data by asking users for their views and opinions, such as interviews, surveys, and focus groups.Read more »
a class of techniques for evaluating a user interface by examining and critiquing it, as opposed to, for instance, testing the interface on users. The critique would normally be based on experience, psychological principles, or a set of previously-defined guidelines.…Read more »
a lab designed for user testing, typically a quiet room with computer equipment and a space for an observer to sit, along with a special observation area (possibly behind a one-way mirror) and equipment for videotaping. Computers in a usability…Read more »
or benchmarks; formal measurements that are used as guides to the level of usability of a product. Metrics include how fast a user can perform a task, number of errors made on a task, learning time, and subjective ratings.Read more »
similar to bug tracking, this is keeping a problem list of known usability problems or issues in a given design that need to be addressed. This systematic approach to documenting design problems helps to avoid problems being overlooked and helps…Read more »
same as user testing, but emphasizes that it is the property of being usable, not the user, that is being tested.
Usability testing encompasses a range of methods that examine how users in the target audience actually interact with a…Read more »
able to be used, easy to use. Software that interacts with people in an efficient and effective way, minimizing confusion and mistakes. Easy to learn, safe, error-free, delightful, useful.Read more »
as opposed to usability testing, which typically brings people into a lab to examine specific usability questions against often predetermined benchmarks, a usage study examines how a system is actually being used in its actual work setting, which may entail…Read more »
an approach to user interface visual and interaction design based on a focus on user intentions and usage patterns. It analyzes users in terms of the roles they play in relation to systems and employs abstract (essential) use cases for…Read more »
a task analysis technique often used in software engineering. For each module of a system, common tasks are written up with the prerequisites for each task, the steps to take for the user and the system, and the changes that…Read more »
a way of evaluating a system by having the designers and programmers actually apply the system in their own work. This is a particularly good approach for finding functional holes and major inefficiencies, and results in great responsiveness to user…Read more »
the extent to which software actually helps to solve users real, practical problems. A system may be easy to use but not relevant to the actual needs of a user. Usefulness depends to a large degree on the features and…Read more »
UAT; a method for determining how well users have adopted a new technology, especially in organizational settings. Users are typically interviewed to determine if and how they are using the technology and to understand what barriers to adoption may exist.…Read more »
UI; the parts of a computer system that a person uses to communicate with the computer. This includes the way the computer conveys messages to the person (output devices), the way the person talks to the computer (input devices), and…Read more »
or u.i. critique; an expert evaluation of a user interface in the tradition of literary criticism. At least in a casual sense, this is the evaluation technique most often used in software reviews: an expert reviews the software from any…Read more »
the overall process of designing how a user will be able to interact with a software application.
User interface design is involved in many stages of product development, including: requirements analysis, information architecture, interaction design, screen design, user testing, documentation,…Read more »
lists of principles for user interface design, ranging from broad statements such as “be consistent” to extremely specific details such as “use an ellipsis (…) at the end of a menu item to indicate that the command brings up a…Read more »
a collection of software routines to help build user interfaces, typically including routines for input-handling, graphics, widgets, error-handling, window management, and so forth. These may be built on type of lower-level software platforms such as window managers and layout managers.…Read more »
uncovering the goals a user has and the capabilities needed from a technology to assist the user in meeting those goals. This involves understanding the target audience, their typical tasks, and their specific constraints, usually through a combination of observational…Read more »
characterization of a system’s target population providing information about the users that is useful in making design decisions. The information in a user profile is usually obtained through a questionnaire given to the target users. A typical user profile might…Read more »
using a program to behave like a user in order to automatically test an interface, either for usability or quality assurance purposes. The program is usually rigged to send input events just like a user, e.g. mouse clicks and keypresses.…Read more »
any of the wide variety of methods for understanding the usability of a system based on examining actual users or other people who are representative of the target user population. Such methods include user testing, focus groups, surveys, interviews, observational…Read more »
a family of methods for evaluating a user interface by collecting data from people actually using the system.
A simple user test would be to bring in a small number of potential users of the software (4-5 minimum, 8-10 to…Read more »
software that allows users to add functionality, usually by allowing the user some level of scripting capability, but also by allowing the user to add resources (extensions, fonts, images, etc). Unix shells often allow users to add commands by writing…Read more »
a popular term used to describe something that is easy to use (usable). The term is used quite loosely, but usually refers to systems that are pleasant to use and easy for beginners to learn.Read more »